Preliminary Course: From Bauhaus to Silicon Valley

Haus der Kulturen der Welt

John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

Limited seating
Admission 8 euro, reduced 5 euro
Tickets available here

2019 will mark the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus. Across the world there has been a shared desire to bring it up to date, but every attempt to revive it is doomed to failure. The Bauhaus was both a forward-looking project and a child of its time. projekt bauhaus critically examines the ideas of the Bauhaus by using its methods: in a preliminary course (2017) and a workshop (2018), it will seek to expose the internal contradictions of the Western idea of progress and discuss alternative approaches. How can we decolonize our understanding of technology? How can we develop and disseminate other ideas of progress and renewal? And how can design change society and everyday life? It’s now time to say farewell to the Bauhaus. In its centenary year, a production at the Volksbühne Berlin will consign it to the grave—but how can one “bury” an undead idea?

Programm Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Bauhaus sought a synthesis of knowledge in which the various forms of knowledge—technical, scientific, emotional, creative—would be interconnected. This concept of knowledge was combined with a new pedagogy to emancipate the people, release their potential, and ultimately lead to the creation of a “new man.” Which spaces encourage creativity and innovation? Which sites of knowledge does society need today? Do advanced laboratories of computer, internet and media companies represent the Bauhaus of the twenty-first century?

With Morehshin Allahyari, Shaina Anand (CAMP), Armen Avanessian, Brave New Alps, Jesko Fezer, Reinier de Graaf (OMA), Orit Halpern, Denisa Kera, Joachim Krausse, Claudia Mareis, Anh-Linh Ngo, Philipp Oswalt, Jussi Parikka, Joanne Pouzenc, Henrike Rabe, Bernd Scherer, Paloma Strelitz (Assemble), Fred Turner, Georg Vrachliotis.

12:00–12:30 Welcome and Introduction

  1. Anh-Linh Ngo and Philipp Oswalt, projekt bauhaus
  2. Hortensia Völckers, Kulturstiftung des Bundes
  3. Heike Catherina Mertens, Schering Stiftung
  4. Thomas Krüger, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung

12:30–13:30 The New Man: From Bauhaus to Silicon Valley

Fred Turner, Professor and Chair of Communication, Stanford University

In 1929, just a decade after the end of World War I, László Moholy-Nagy told the readers of his book, The New Vision, that “The future needs the whole man.” This new kind of person would be trained in the arts of drawing, sculpture, photography, and architecture—ideally at the Bauhaus—and socialized to believe that work and life could be brought together in an ideal community.

Today, almost a hundred years later, the Bauhaus dream of the New Man persists —in Silicon Valley. From the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College, through the counterculture of the 60s to the Facebook factory floor in Menlo, California, the talk maps the transformation of modernist visions of the New Man and the persistence of the Bauhaus faith in media, technology and the self as benevolent engines of social change.

Moderated by Claudia Mareis, Director of the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures at the Academy of Art and Design Basel.

13:30–14:30 Lunch Break

14:30– 17:00 Technologies of Knowledge

The Bauhaus was concerned with design at the junction of craft and industrial production, the emergence of the “First Machine Age” (Reyner Banham), Fordist industrialization, and the associated consumer society. Gropius’s slogan “Art and technology – the new unity” was at once a diagnosis of the crisis and a promise for the future. Today we are experiencing the emergence of the “Second Machine Age” (Martin Pawley), the conclusion of the transition from the analog to the digital, from the physical to the virtual, from consumption to coproduction. How does technology challenge design today? How can technology be designed? Or should we perhaps be asking the other way around: How does technology design?

Moderated by Claudia Mareis, Director of the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures at the Academy of Art and Design Basel.

Input by:

  1. 14:30–14:50 Morehshin Allahyari, Artist, activist and curator New York

  2. 14:50–15:10 Denisa Kera, Philosopher and designer Tel Aviv

  3. 15:10–15:30 Shaina Anand, Member of the artist collective CAMP, Mumba

  4. 15:30–15:50 Orit Halpern, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, London Concordia University, Montréal

  5. 15:50–17:00 Roundtable discussion with the speakers and Jesko Fezer (Architect, Professor for Experimental Design at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg), Bernd Scherer (Philosopher and author, Director of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin), Georg Vrachliotis (Professor for the Theory of Architecture and Director of the Archive for Architecture and Engineering in Southwest Germany (saai) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)).

17:30–20:00 Spaces of Knowledge

Responding to the needs of the industrial demands, the Bauhaus dedicated spaces of production that were oriented towards the democratization of the design process, fostering experiential knowledge and skills, and facilitating the dialogue between disciplines. At the same time, these spaces also paved the way towards the professionalization of design pedagogy in line with modernist ideals. With the growing commodification of culture and the rise of cognitive capitalism in the second half of the 20th century, design, creativity, and experimentation have regained popularity within new interdisciplinary spaces of production. How are those spaces fostering an updated vision of the “new man”? What are the spatial qualities of these new spaces of knowledge? What are they telling us about the future of knowledge production and knowledge exchange, in both digital and physical terms?

Moderated by Armen Avanessian, Philosopher, literary theorist, and political theorist, Berlin

Input by:

  1. 17:40–18:00 Reinier de Graaf, Architect, partner at OMA, Netherlands

  2. 18:00–18:20 Henrike Rabe, Research Associate at the Hermann von Helmholtz Center for Cultural Techniques, Humboldt University, Berlin

  3. 18:20–18:40 Paloma Strelitz, Architect, member of the collective Assemble

  4. 18:40–19:00 Jussi Parikka (What is a Media Lab?), Writer, media theorist, and Professor in Technological Culture and Aesthetics at Winchester School of Art

  5. 19:00–20:00 Roundtable mit den Referenten und Bianca Elzenbaumer und Fabio Franz (Brave New Alps, Design collective, South Tyrol), Joachim Krausse (Design theorist, Berlin), Philipp Oswalt, (Architect and Professor of Architecture Theory and Design at the University of Kassel), Joanne Pouzenc (Architect and Curator, Berlin).

20:30–21:30 Final panel designed by Brave New Alps

Brave New Alps produce design projects that engage people in discussing and reconfiguring the politics of social and environmental issues. By combining design research methods with critical pedagogy, community economies, and DIY techniques, they produce spaces for collective learning and making, publications and urban interventions. Transforming the space of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s Theatersaal into a spatial experiment for informal knowledge exchange, Brave New Alps invites the speakers and the public to reflect on the main themes of the day in a convivial set-up.

Photos: Neven Allgeier

Partners projekt bauhaus

Funded by the Bauhaus heute Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation:

Funded by:

A project by: